This month, we continue with the Revised Common Lectionary texts and begin a new series with the Bishop’s arrival in December.
This week, our text invites us to think about risk. I’m certain that we all take risks from time to time. I remember carefully thinking through the decision to move to Nebraska back in 2011. I remember making the decision to come back to California in 2014. I remember risks related to relationships and homes and schools and children. Mostly, everything has worked out pretty well. Consider your own risks as you read the text below.
14“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. 15To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey.
16“After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. 17In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. 18But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.
19“Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’
21“His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
22“The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’
23“His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
24“Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. 25So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’
26“His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? 27In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest. 28Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins. 29Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them. 30Now take the worthless servant and throw him outside into the darkness.’
“People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.”
Consider these questions:
- What are unusual risks that you have taken?
- What are some of the more usual (or regular or comfortable or smaller) risks that you take?
- How do you assess these risks? How do you decide whether or not to take them?
- How does risk play into your faith life?
It troubles me that this scripture could be interpreted to justify reaping where you have not sown– and other unethical business practices– as being condoned by God. The fearful servant had good cause to be cautious. Though this servant did not earn his master’s trust, neither it seems did the master earn his servant’s trust.